Thursday, May 1, 2014

... Author, Libertarian, and American Enterprise Institute Scholar.

Real Time
Bill Maher
Episode 315
25 April 2014

Bill Maher's guests included Charles Murray -- author, libertarian, and American Enterprise Institute scholar.

I transcribed some of the conversation from Episode 315, beginning at 42:50.

Charles Murray:

But if you're talking about taxes
here's the real problem.
If you want to jack up the rates on the really rich
the amounts of money that that'll bring in are trivial
compared to jacking up rates on the middle class.

The money, if you want to raise more money,
it's going to have to come from
tax rate increases on the middle class
and nobody's going to do that.

Maher: I agree.

Murray: Nobody's gonna do it.

Maher: Well, if they have to, they will.

I'm sure Murray's argument is *not* that rich people are poor. His argument must be that there just aren't enough rich people to make taxing them worthwhile.

Want to argue that point? Don't. You could rebut him with the story that the worlds richest 85 people have more money than the poorest three billion, whatever the numbers were, I don't remember. But don't get sucked in. You know their argument is bullshit, the "we have to balance the Federal budget" argument. Don't let them make an argument based on the need to balance the Federal budget. Don't let them choose the topic.

Murray presents a picture of our economy that is like a snapshot, a still life. It's a picture of a big hole in the ground -- the Federal debt -- and a big pile of dirt, which is the money that the rich people have, or the poor people or somebody. Murray wants us to buy this static image, discover that we're the ones with the big pile of dirt, and... and I don't know what. He wants us to decide NOT to want to fill the hole? That can't be right.

Maybe he wants us to throw our hands up in disgust, and give up our quest.

I want you to realize that the static image is the wrong image. The economy isn't static. The economy is dynamic. The economy is motion. The economy is activity. The economy is transaction. Income. Flow.

You don't fill the hole by shoveling this pile of dirt into that hole. You fill the hole gradually, a little at a time in a full length motion picture, by tweaking things every now and then when a pile seems to be getting too big or a hole too deep.

If you're talking about taxes
you're talking about tweaking things.

I don't want to jack up the rates on the really rich. I think we should have a standard deduction well above poverty level, and a flat tax on income over that, a flat percentage that would work out to be progressive because of the large standard deduction. And then we should have an upper limit to what a person can earn in a year -- a lower limit on the value of the dollar is what that is, and wealthy people should like that idea -- and on income above that upper limit the tax rate is 100%. Not 70% or 90% or any kind of equivocation like that. A one hundred percent tax on income above whatever, ten million dollars a year, maybe. Ten million is too high, from my perspective, but the dollar's not worth much any more.

Tweak it: set a limit.

You don't raise taxes "to raise more money". You tweak taxes to get money flowing in the directions you want. And then when people learn how to take advantage of the tax code -- that's the "Lucas critique" I think -- you change the tax code again.

Did you notice? I'm not talking about how high or low taxes should be. I'm talking about what kind of taxes we should have.

No comments: